For centuries, “hazing” has been an existent practice amongst various hierarchical organizations and groups throughout society, including college clubs, defined in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “the practice of playing unpleasant tricks on someone or forcing someone to do unpleasant things.”
Hazing is also more than what the dictionary describes; it’s a form of initiation into groups, including college fraternities and sororities, the military, high school and college bands, and sports teams.
According to an excerpt from the book Successful Coaching by Ranier Martens on humankinetics.com, there are a few marked differences between hazing and bullying even though they quite resemble each other.
Bullying tends to isolate an unwilling individual victimized by one aggressor or a small group of aggressors that have a tendency towards physical harm.
Hazing, on the other hand, involves a willing larger group publicly wanting to join an established and community accepted group with a tendency more towards emotional and mental abuse.
In both cases, there are exceptions to what harm is inflicted. In the modern age of lightning-fast social media coverage, online news-reporting and online sharing of collected data, the aging practice in these kinds of organizations has become synonymous with severe injury and/or fatality for quite valid reasons.
The violence and cruelty that has been reported in every publicized case of hazing, which is not healthy and should not be accepted by society. Charges should be filed for deaths related to hazing and hazing practices resulting in death should be punishable by incarceration of individuals found guilty.
On the web page “hazing deaths” via hanknuwer.com, is a list of deaths related to hazing incidents from 1838 through the present with brief notes about each incident and whether alcohol was a factor.
The list comes from Hank Nuwer’s book “Wrongs of Passage.” From the list: from 1838 through October 2014, there were a total of 165 deaths reported, 19 of which were in California colleges including San Diego State University (2002).
Starting with 1838, it wasn’t until 1984 that Nuwer noted a guilty verdict for a hazing incident, but the verdict of guilty was for the destruction of evidence.
The glaring problem here is that it took 106 years for someone to be held accountable in some measure for a death related to hazing.
According to the Young Adult Development Project at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) website, the human mind isn’t fully developed until at least the age of 25. Until that time, humans are still mentally immature and their actions follow their immature thinking.
These are the humans that not only create cruel and dangerous hazing activities, but humans of the same maturity level risk their lives to be initiated into an organization.
Not to mention that, for hazing to occur, there must be a willing participant and there have been countless participants, including those who died trying to get into an organization that couldn’t accept them as they were.
To consider hazing as nothing more than a “tradition” or a “rite of passage” is too quaint for something that can go so horrifically wrong.
If nothing is done to make hazing a criminal offense with severe legal consequences, the number of deaths and injuries will only continue to rise.